So you were responsible and saved up some cash for a fun summer vacation. You can’t wait to start planning it with your friends or family, but you don’t want to go into debt just for a week on the beach.
Here are five ways to save money on vacation without pinching pennies.
1. Go Where the Locals Are
It doesn’t matter where you are – overseas, or within the U.S. – always go where the locals are to save the most money.
Boardwalks, major attractions and historic landmarks are basically just tourist traps waiting to devour your wallet.
Look on TripAdvisor, Lonely Planet, or read a few travel blogs to get a sense for where the more affordable outings are.
2. Research Ahead of Time
It’s always good to have a loose itinerary of things you want to do before going on vacation. That way, you have a rough estimate of how much it will cost.
While you’re researching places to visit, poke around the websites of various restaurants, excursion companies and typical hot spots to price things out. Additionally, read the reviews to see if they’re worth your time and money.
You’d be surprised at the difference being prepared makes. You’ll know if you’re getting ripped off or if there’s a better deal nearby. It saves you hassle ahead of time so you can enjoy your vacation.
3. Be Smart About Transportation
Some people automatically assume that traveling by car is the cheapest way from A to B. That’s not always true, especially if you’re going to use a lot of gas, encounter a bunch of tolls and have to pay for parking.
Instead of assuming, do a cost comparison to see which transportation option is actually cheaper. While trains are typically more expensive, include them just in case they work for your situation.
If you have a travel rewards credit card, check to see how many points you have and if you can redeem them. This can decrease the cost of flying by a lot.
4. Stay Away From Hotels
Besides transportation, lodging is easily one of the biggest expenses you’ll incur when planning a vacation. For that reason, it’s usually best to avoid staying at a hotel when you can.
Depending on how long your vacation is it may make more sense to rent a house or an apartment to have access to a kitchen. Buying and cooking food for some meals will save you a lot of money versus eating out all the time.
Check Airbnb, Homeaway, TurnKey, VRBO – any sites that allow you to rent a home or room from a private owner. If you’re splitting the cost with a group, this is almost always going to be cheaper (and roomier) than staying at a hotel.
5. Stick to a Daily Budget
Worrying about how much you’re spending takes away from the experience of a vacation, but if you want an easier way to track it, set a daily budget for yourself. If you’ve researched your options you should know how much you can get away with spending each day. Aim to stay around this budget for the duration of your trip, and you’ll be golden.
Overall, use common sense when you’re on a vacation. Seek to save money the same way you do normally, but don’t forget to have fun, too!
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